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Biosecurity Award nomination for invasive black-grass response

in Biosecurity
Author: AsureQuality

AsureQuality’s biosecurity and field services team has been recognised for its role in the swift response to the spread of a highly invasive grass in Canterbury.

Designed to recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to protecting our country, the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards bring together all those who have championed biosecurity across Aotearoa. AsureQuality is one of three finalists in the Eagle Technology Local and Central Government Award category, with winners to be announced at the annual event in Wellington on 8 April.

It was in December 2021 that black-grass was first identified in linseed crops in the Canterbury region, and Biosecurity New Zealand engaged AsureQuality to assist in the response. Peter Wilkins, AsureQuality’s Technical Manager - Plants and Insects, was part of the company’s biosecurity and field services team that worked alongside farmers and the industry to block the spread of black-grass. He says the consequences of black-grass establishment are severe, requiring a skilled team, who could act quickly.

“Black-grass has the potential to cause a huge amount of economic damage to the arable industry and our economy. A swift response was crucial to prevent the grass from being established here, hence we were keen to answer Biosecurity New Zealand’s call for help,” says Peter.

The initial response involved the AsureQuality team removing immature black-grass plants from crops, and the cutting, baling, wrapping and transport of the risk material for destructive treatment by air curtain incineration.

Following a subsequent find in a wheat crop in 2022, AsureQuality was again involved, surveying and rouging affected crops to remove black-grass and helping with tracing and the identification of additional contaminated lines and at-risk properties in Canterbury. AsureQuality also oversaw the removal of more than 3,200 bales from risk properties. Novel techniques were employed to reduce the risk of seed dispersal, including the use of a low emission burning process for destruction of these bales as an alternative to burial.

“It was a tremendous effort from all those involved and an example of teamwork at its best. We’re really proud of the role we play in protecting biosecurity in New Zealand, and it’s fantastic to be recognised alongside all those across government and industry who are doing important work to ensure it remains resilient and effective,” says Peter.

For more information about the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, visit the website here: NZ Biosecurity Awards - recognising and celebrating our biosecurity team of all New Zealanders | Ko Tātou This Is Us(external link)